Carlingford Lough: jumps the last in the lead
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Punchestown, Wednesday
Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m1f, 5yo+
CARLINGFORD LOUGH came into the Punchestown Gold Cup as the freshest horse and came out as the victor, taking full advantage of skipping Fairyhouse and Aintree to win by four and a half lengths at odds of 12-1.
Djakadam fared best of those appearing at their third spring festival in second, with Don Poli – who finished behind him at Cheltenham but in front at Aintree, back in third.
The 4-6 favourite Cue Card, who fell at Cheltenham when in the lead and travelling strongly and won with great authority at Aintree, was back in fourth.
Having pulled through the early part of the race Cue Card’s jockey Paddy Brennan was the first of the major contenders to send out the distress signals. Having been dominant all season, with Grade 1 wins in the Betfair Chase and King George, as well as the Betfred Bowl, he never really looked a danger.
Colin Tizzard said: “He pulled a bit early, which is a sign of a horse on edge at the end of the season. He then finished weakly, whereas all season he has finished strongly.”
‘John Kiely has done amazing’
Instead it was the two-time Irish Gold Cup winner Carlingford Lough who came through under Barry Geraghty. The man only able to ride at the meeting after getting a 30-day ban overturned produced his mount to perfection and was full of praise for the trainer.
“What a trainer John Kiely is,” he said. “This horse came from the clouds to win at Leopardstown when Mark [Walsh] gave him a brilliant ride.
“He couldn’t go the gallop at Cheltenham and he couldn’t go the gallop today, but the way he finished out was great. He just ran all the way to the line. John Kiely has done amazing with this horse.”
Four in with a chance
Approaching the second last there were four in a line, with Cue Card toiling in behind – only his class keeping him as close.
Road To Riches crashed out with a nasty fall but got up and appeared none the worse as he walked away, leaving horses representing owners JP McManus, Gigginstown House Stud and Rich Ricci to battle out the finish in something of an ode to Irish jump racing.
Unlike for much of the season – but yet again at this meeting – it was the Mullins-trained duo who faltered. Carlingford Lough, who had travelled in rear throughout, came with a storming run and surged clear after the last.
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